VELscope Oral Cancer Screening System
More than 480,000 new cases of oral and throat cancers are diagnosed each year, and over 35,000 of those cases are right here in the United States. Oral cancer kills one person every hour in the U.S., and without proper detection methods, a person may have oral cancer and not even know it. In almost all cases of oral cancer, early detection plays a major role in a patient's chances of survival. By diagnosing and treating oral cancer early, a patient's five year survival rate is 80-90% greater.
Risk factors for oral cancer include:
- Frequent use of tobacco products (cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco)
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- Genetics (a family history of oral cancer or any type of cancer)
- Excessive exposure to the sun at a young age
Historically men over the age of 50 are at greatest risk of oral cancer. More recently, research is showing the incidence of oral cancer in men and women in their twenties, thirties, and fourties is due to a connection between oral cancer and the human papilloma virus (HPV-16).
How VELscope works
The VELscope screening system consists of a specialized blue light source and viewing scope that make it easier for your hygienist to look closely at the tissues inside your mouth. Normal tissues will almost glow a bright green color. Abnormal tissue shows up much darker under the special light.
An abnormal screening does not always mean that the patient has cancer. If an abnormal screening occurs, your hygienist may schedule a second scan later to see if the dark spots disappear, or may choose to have Dr. Garceau perform a gentle, non-invasive brush biopsy to make sure it's not cancer.